Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Christian Social Services of Illinois: martyrs need not apply

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 11, 2011

Remember the Maccabees?

And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land…[1 Mac 1:44]

Mattathias responded directly:

We will not obey the king's words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left. …[1 Mac 2:22]

The Maccabees fought valiantly, and suffered tremendously, to preserve the integrity of their faith. That’s one way to handle a conflict between government regulations and religious precepts. Now here’s another.

The state of Illinois has directed Catholic adoption agencies to “follow customs strange to the land” by placing young children with same-sex couples. The Church-run agencies have resisted, saying that to follow such a policy would violate the teachings of the Catholic faith. But now one Church agency, Catholic Social Services of Belleville, has dropped out of the fight, and also dropped both its name and its affiliation with the Belleville diocese. The secessionist group explains:

This action is being taken so that the agency, which will be known as Christian Social Services of Illinois, may adhere to the new State of Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act.

That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? State law came into conflict with God’s law, so the leaders of this group decided that God’s law would have to go. Something about having no god but Caesar, perhaps.

Or perhaps the leaders of what is now “Christian Social Services” never really believed the Church’s teachings regarding the damage done to children raised in homosexual households. The Vatican says that placing adoptive children with same-sex couples is a form of violence against those children. The head of Christian Social Services says that his agency will now arrange such adoptions because that is “best for the children.” The legal ties with the Belleville diocese are only now being broken, but it seems likely this agency stopped thinking with the Catholic Church some time ago.

Now Christian Social Services will enjoy the benefit of government grants that are denied to the adoption agencies that have retained their Catholic identities. And a few thousand years ago, no doubt some Jews grew to enjoy the taste of the pork that Antiochus forced them to eat. But do you know something? I don’t remember the names of those accommodating Jews. I remember the Maccabees.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Jan. 31, 2012 2:59 PM ET USA

    Phil: Right on! However, @Bernadette: you don't know and I don't know what was ACTUALLY going through Bishop Braxton's mind, and he shouldn't be presumed guilty of a hypothetical action. Besides, the Diocese of Bellville isn't getting ANY State dollars anymore. Clearly, the officials of the FORMERLY Catholic Social Services have made a public decision and have taken public action -- unfortunately, there is nothing hypothetical about that. I'll bet the pork tastes pretty good.

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Nov. 16, 2011 2:40 PM ET USA

    I hope you all don't think the bishop didn't know about this; in fact, he probably figured out a way to get around the problem and still receive govt. dollarls by changing the name! Remind you of another prominent prelate who heads an important dicastery in the Vatican? What I can't understand is how they can think they can make a mockery of God!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 13, 2011 8:14 PM ET USA

    Presumably, ACTUAL CATHOLICS made donations to this agency assuming it to be ACTUALLY CATHOLIC. If I were one of the donors, I'd be headed to court to require that those donations be disgorged and given to a REALLY CATHOLIC organization.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Nov. 12, 2011 12:30 PM ET USA

    No one faces squarely the REAL issue here...; and that is that we as faithful laity DESERVE an ACCOUNTING from the Bishops as to why they are failing and have failed frequently in their reasonable duty to restrain evil within the Church. Hence my frequent cry, "Leave 'government'ALONE. They are not the Church and never will be until Christ returns. But rather, WE are responsible for being the Church.

  • Posted by: dt.dean9713 - Nov. 12, 2011 12:06 PM ET USA

    Just as Jesus said, "I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God". It appears that Christian Social Services are denying before men that is of Jesus and has turned to that of the law(s) of man. The application of denying Jesus by denying that of the culture of life is that of denying Jesus himself through the denying the culture of life.

  • Posted by: jplaunder1846 - Nov. 11, 2011 10:35 PM ET USA

    Down that slippery slope we slide like lemmings to the cliffs of death.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 11, 2011 6:33 PM ET USA

    Very sad, but not surprising. Around the world, untold millions of people have done the same thing - brought up as Catholics, they drop their Catholic beliefs, sleep around, live with the opposite sex out of wedlock and don't even recognise the phrase "in sin". And if they go to the occasional Mass for a wedding or funeral, they take communion sacreligiously as if nothing's changed. We all know them. All we can do is pray for them and trust that in time with God's grace they will see the light

  • Posted by: - Nov. 11, 2011 6:23 PM ET USA

    Without government funding, they probably would have to lay off staff. Too much to suffer for the Faith?

  • Posted by: mwean7331 - Nov. 11, 2011 5:49 PM ET USA

    It's all about money isn't it. I venture that organization was Catholic in name only. They care very ittle for the best interests of the children if they are willin to put them in such immoral circumstances. I truly feel so bad for those children. How sad!

  • Posted by: timothy.op - Nov. 11, 2011 5:18 PM ET USA

    Entirely true, and horribly sad. You wonder if it occurred to them that ceasing to bear the name 'Catholic' doesn't exempt one from the obligation to adhere to the moral law. ...I heard once about a child who grew up in a same-sex home; eventually, the poor kid couldn't take any more and left, later to begin speaking out against gay adoption. Has anyone heard of this young person? I haven't been able to find more information. We need witnesses like this.